The livin’ is easy …

OK, so baseball season doesn’t officially start for a few more days, and the last frost date is still two weeks away, and I can’t wear white shoes for at least a couple more weeks, and … you get the idea. But it’s officially summer here at the Hippie Headquarters in beautiful Red Fork, Oklahoma.

Here is how I know: Tonight, as I was getting ready to leave to go out to dinner with some friends, Scout launched into a barking frenzy that was spectacular even by her standards. I finally hushed her up just enough to make out the unmistakable strains of canned calliope music.

That’s right, kids. The ice-cream truck is back.

If I hadn’t been heading out for dinner, I would have gone dashing out the door to buy one of those ice-cream sandwiches made of two giant chocolate-chip cookies with ice cream in the middle and miniature chocolate chips all over the outside. Because they are absolutely heavenly … and they taste even better when you buy them off a guy driving a pink cargo van with pictures of ice-cream bars stuck all over it. :)

Another sure sign of summer: I’m dragging my butt out of bed early tomorrow morning to go on a long run with the Fleet Feet crew. I didn’t sign up for the marathon program this spring, because I didn’t think I had time to train, plus Suzanne and I were going to run together on Saturdays, plus I didn’t want to run another marathon until fall. But I’m definitely going to try OKC, and Suzanne is out of town this weekend, so I e-mailed my coach to find out how far his group was going to run tomorrow, where they were going to meet, and whether they’d mind if I made a special guest appearance.

As luck would have it, they’re doing their longest training run of the season tomorrow. Dunno if I’ll do the whole 20 miles with them (I was planning on 15 tomorrow), but hey … what’s another five miles between friends? If the conversation is good enough, and the weather is pretty enough, and the course is interesting enough, I might just run the whole thing. I stocked up on Carb-Boom the other day, and I’ve got a new pair of shoes, so you never know.

One more sign of summer: The Cubs’ season opener is Monday in Cincinnati.

Hooray for summer!

Emily

Jill Carroll freed

It’s not often that something blogworthy happens at 7 a.m., but just as I stepped onto the treadmill this morning at the gym, I glanced up at the TV in front of me — which was tuned to CNN — and learned that Jill Carroll had been released.

Carroll, an Iraq correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, was kidnapped Jan. 7. This morning, she was talking to reporters and looked healthy and calm.

Christian Scientists all over the world have been waiting, like little kids anticipating Christmas morning, to see how Love would be demonstrated in this situation. The outpouring from people of every imaginable faith and every imaginable background has been just phenomenal. Click here to read some of the messages people have been sending.

For more on the story:

AP
BBC
Daily Kos

And now, for the moral of the story:

Don’t pick on a girl who works for a paper run by people for whom miracles are just another day at the office. ;)

Emily

Bombalurina (a practical cat)

My feline friend was waiting for me when I got home from church this evening.

She greeted me as I got out of the car and followed me to the door. I offered her a little bread and milk, which didn’t impress her. She politely sampled it, confirmed that the bread was stale, and then sat quietly, staring at me through the door.

Here is the difference between dogs and cats: Dogs take commands. Cats give them … in the same firm tone that humans normally reserve for dogs.

Bombalurina, as I have taken to calling her (she’s too young to be a Grizabella, and you can’t call a calico Jennyanydots), sat on the porch, sending me telepathic orders to go find a can of tuna for her. She punctuated her instructions with the occasional plaintive mew just to make sure I didn’t try to ignore her.

I found the tuna, opened it up, and put it on the porch for her. She rewarded my obedience by allowing me to pet her a little bit while she ate.

I still can’t figure out where she belongs. She doesn’t have a collar, and she doesn’t seem to have a home … but she looks healthy and doesn’t appear to be malnourished, although that could be the result of my neighbors free-feeding their cats on their front porch.

In any case, she’s a pretty little thing, with huge amber eyes and a beautiful dark calico coat. Utterly charming. As far as I’m concerned, she’s welcome to stop by for dinner whenever she wants.

Emily

Hyacinths

I forgot to report this yesterday, but when I came home from work yesterday evening, the hyacinths in my front yard were giving off the most wonderful fragrance. I could smell them as soon as I got out of the car. They reminded me of lilacs or something. It was so wonderful that I couldn’t resist picking one of the little florets and slipping it into my pocket in the hopes that its lovely fragrance would permeate my coat. (It didn’t work, but I was hoping it would.)

Today was pretty. I didn’t really see anything new outside, but the sparrows outside our front door at the office were obviously enjoying the nice weather. I think they have a nest somewhere under the awning out front, because they are always flitting around out there.

Emily

The defiance of the long-distance runner

You know you’ve been away from double-digit mileage too long when you actually start to crave the taste of Carb-Boom.

These were the self-imposed limitations muttering in my ears this morning as I struggled to convince myself to get up and go for a run: “It’s too early. You need more sleep. You can’t run 10 miles. You haven’t run more than five miles since November … and you walked half of that five-miler you tried Saturday. You haven’t had any breakfast. You don’t have any Gatorade. You haven’t been drinking enough water. You’re going to get woozy. You’re going to pass out. You’re going to hurt yourself. You always get too hot when you run on the treadmill. You can’t possibly run 10 miles today.”

That little voice of false limitation is the same little voice that chases every marathoner through weeks of training. It gets up early on long-run days and prances along in front of you, whining its hateful little sing-song about how this is too hard and you’ll never make it. It whispers lies about blisters and dehydration and The Wall while you run, and it wakes you up in the middle of the night with aggressive mental suggestions about muscle cramps. It uses all sorts of dirty tricks to try to make you believe in it. You continually have to tell it to pipe down, because you’d never finish if you let it keep yanging at you.

I silenced it this morning with 10 strong miles on the treadmill (adding a tenth of a mph to my speed every 15 minutes or so, just to rub it in) and a poem I’d learned as a child and then forgotten until today:

Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child,
Listen to the DON’TS
Listen to the SHOULDN’TS
The IMPOSSIBLES, the WON’TS.
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me –
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be.

– Shel Silverstein

I’m 33 days from 26.2.

Bring it.

Emily

What diet?

The weather was nice today — much warmer than it’s been the last week or so. We spent the afternoon at Cain’s Ballroom, listening to my young friends Emma Jane and Marina Pendleton perform with the Roundup Boys. The girls, who play fiddle and mandolin, were very good, and Ron is crazy about Western swing music, so we had a good time.

I blew my diet to the tune of 2,500 calories today. We spent a good bit of time on Route 66 today, and I just couldn’t resist the lunch buffet at Ollie’s … or a chocolate-dipped ice-cream cone at Toppers in Bristow this evening … or a sandwich, chips and sweet tea at the Rock Cafe in Stroud. But that’s OK. I have just about talked myself into running the OKC Memorial Marathon — for which I have not even begun to train — so I am going to be doing some serious running and cross-training over the next few weeks.

This means that my definition of the word “diet” is about to change.

To a non-runner, the term “diet” means something like “Atkins” or “Slim-Fast” or “less than 1,500 calories a day.”

To a marathoner four weeks from another race, the term “diet” means something like “Can I get a side of pasta salad and an extra roll to go with those mashed potatoes? Hey, Pal — whaddayou lookin’ at? It’s called ‘carbo-loading.’ Let’s see you haul your skinny little butt 26.2 miles, and then you can come talk to me about your precious Dr. Atkins.”

It’s good to be a marathoner. Pass the Ben & Jerry’s, would you?

Emily

Birds

Suzanne and I went jogging on the river trail this morning. Songdog came along. He was a handful — I haven’t had time to walk him much lately, so he was full of pent-up energy — but we had a good time anyway. I sprinted with Song all the way across the pedestrian bridge to work some of the goofiness out of him. On the way across, I saw a couple of herons near a sand bar or something in the middle of the river. They were beautiful. We also saw plenty of Canada geese along the west bank of the river. Song was disappointed that I wouldn’t let him chase them.

I wish I’d had my camera to get a picture of the seagull that went gliding over the river under a cloud that was sort of splitting the sunshine into all these distinct shafts of light. It was really beautiful. So were the redbuds in the arbor garden.

We encountered a huge flock of mallards with shiny green heads somewhere near the spillway, and we were just about finished with our run when Suzanne pointed out a bright red cardinal flitting across the path ahead of us.

By the time we finished our run, Songdog was so tired that he wouldn’t even look at me — he just curled up on the passenger’s seat and looked pathetic as I drove home. I gave him a drink of water and then sent him off to take a nap in his crate.

Ron and I grabbed lunch at the Blue Dome Diner, which has awesome food, and then we went to the Country Store — ostensibly so Ron could ask some gardening question, but mostly so I could pet the ducklings and goslings and chicks that were all huddled up under heat lamps in there.

You can’t believe how cute those baby birds are. I’d have taken one of the goslings home if not for the fact that all goslings are defective: They start out all cute and fuzzy and sweet, and then one day you look up and they’ve turned into big, hissing, biting, noisy, obnoxious geese.

When I was little, my parents would take me to the city park to feed crackers and stale bread to the ducks. Unfortunately, the pond was also home to a flock of nasty-tempered geese that would come running at us with their heads stuck way out in front of them and their mouths open like they wanted to bite us. They’d hiss and charge at us until I ran away, screaming and sobbing hysterically for Mommy and Daddy to make them go away.

Nasty creatures. I’m glad we don’t have any geese.

Emily